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The Smell of Gibson's Finest

You walk up to the bar and order Canadian whiskey. Gibson's Finest, watered down with diet Pepsi. Years later, our recycling bins will be filled to the brim with empty 60-ounce bottles of your finest nights that I wish I didn't have to remember.

My mother walks past you. She is wearing an oversized oxford white button-down that she bought in the men's department; it is neatly ironed and tucked into her long back skirt. Her serving apron holds her favourite wine opener and a pad of paper that she never has to use. She carries a tray of drinks, mostly beer and a few tequila shots. Her thin, delicate arms are stronger than they look. She is heading to the banquet room where your work hosts a party.

As she slowly walks by, the two of you make eye contact, and you say something charming.

I want to scream out to her, "Don't fall for it; he will ruin all of our lives."

But instead, I watch her smile back, in that shameless way she does when she knows she's caught the curiosity of a man. Let the games begin. I have to sit back and quietly watch, knowing that everyone in this particular game loses.

I don't remember how it begins. Perhaps it started when you took us to your boat. We spent the day BBQing down at your dock, under a bridge somewhere outside of the city. As the train passes by, the sounds of rattling metal echo over the dark, murky water. The smell of dead fish and gasoline makes me feel sick to my stomach. No one is having a good time.

We start going to your house for dinners. You're a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Sometimes we sleepover. You live East of Adelaide in that sombre brown house, now painted baby blue. That crooked house now dressed up as something beautiful is unrecognizable. But as I drive by, I can see a past version of myself staring out the second-story window–so young, so unaware of what's to come.

You and my Mom take it slow. Slower than usual, and we take that as a good sign. Maybe you're different. You visit the hospital when my sister gives birth, you hold my nephew, and he looks extra tiny in your big arms. When he's old enough to talk, he will call you Grandpa. You love him in ways you could never love me.

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